I am sitting on the porch of my office. This porch is a testament of how much the man I love - the man I married on a cold, crisp November day somewhere in the Midwest, loves me.
He built me a porch.
I am drinking my morning coffee, having an illicit and rare cigarette. Luxuriating in the earmarks of spring. The coffee is Ethiopian, a gift from a friend recently returned. It is amazingly good.
A bumble bee is swirling around the garden, drunk. I wonder if insects have a police force. Can you get ticketed for being a drunk bee flying?
In the neighboring garden a woman is cooing to her baby. The baby coos back. They both giggle. I listen, voraciously, an eavesdropper. I listen and then I don't. I want to be cooing to my own baby, my own little Fang. I want my own little Fang to coo back.
I coo in my head to my own little Fang. It doesn't really work.
Of all the things I am, and I have been, I never thought I would be this: a 32 year old babyless mother. Heartbreak town. Cue the violins. I tear up. Clear my throat. Finish my cigarette. Take a sip of coffee. The tears are still there, just beneath the surface.
Josie is stretched out, soaking up the morning sun. She senses a shift in mood, in the air and rises graceful and sleek. Downward dog, a deep stretch. In a liquid movement she has come to rest her head on my knee. A gentle budge. Don't be sad, her eyes say, pleading. Not sad. Not sad mama.
Dread is on the periphery of my morning. It is sauntering up casually towards Anxiety, another watcher. 'Fancy a date,' asks Dread. Anxiety is coy, a bit uncertain. Dread has a reputation for being something of a rake.
My breath speeds up. Panic starts to well up in my chest. I close my eyes. Breathe slow, I say. Focus on the word relax.
Focus. Focus on relax.
The two retreat into the shadows. I sigh with relief. With deflation. I could have avoided going into the office, used a panic attack as an excuse to stay here, in the garden. But I don't. Maybe I should. Work is a political minefield. A game of speed chess that keeps changing rules. Changing players. I can't keep up or keep track of the names.
I want to stay at home. Here. I want so much that I can't have in this moment. I just want you to come home now, Fang. It isn't funny anymore, this disappearing act. Listen to your mother. Just come home.
But of course you can't. And on Monday, I will go and just double check that they have released the right body to the mortuary. Even if it is just your body and you don't live there anymore.